The perfect Budget meal, Vetkoek with Mince

South Africans have a lot of culinary things to be proud of. Biltong, Koeksisters, Milktart and Bunny chows are just a few of the better known ones. One of my absolute favourite, proudly South African dishes, has to be Vetkoek. Directly translated Vetkoek is Fat Cake in Afrikaans. Quite ironic really, as too many of these will definitely make you look like a Fat Cake. However, if done right, the dough doesn’t absorb too much oil and the vetkoeks become crispy on the outside and beautifully light and fluffy on the inside.

There are so many different ways to enjoy vetkoek. With savoury mince, cheese, syrup…really anything you can think of. They’re also a great budget meal idea because they are so cheap to make. You could buy ready-made vetkoeks from almost any supermarket in South Africa but making them your self is just so much better.

I used the recipe from www.cookbook.co.za (Click Here for recipe) but most South African families will have their own recipe. I used this recipe cause we don’t have one. We are cheaters you see? My dad always buys the ready made dough from the shops and then just fries the dough himself. Still delicious, but not as delicious as these.

The savoury mince recipe I am posting might seem like it’s WAY too much for just 4 people. And that’s because it is.  I like to cook things like Savoury mince in bulk and either use it in a different meal the next night or freeze it for later. Therefore, when you are in a rush or just really not in the mood to cook, you can just cook some rice/pasta/mash, defrost the mince and you have a quick meal. To bulk up the mince you could add cubes of potato, peas, corn, spinach or any other vegetable you like. Mushrooms are also always yum. This, once again, depends on what you have in the house.

If you’ve never tried making Vetkoek, first of all, Shame on you if you’re South African, but if you’re not, you should really try it. It’s surprisingly easy and really quite comforting.

This amount of savoury mince works out to approximately R66.92 without the spices and cost of the optional vegetables. Considering that this amount of mince can serve up to 8 portions, I think this is really cheap. It works out to R8.36 per portion. Adding rice/mash/pasta would add maybe R3-5  a portion.

1kg Beef Mince
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 large carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
2tsp sugar
1 tin water (I use the chopped tomato tin)
1/2 tsp dried thyme (use fresh if you have)
2tsp ground coriander
pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cups vegetables of your choice
Salt & pepper to taste

  • In a large pot, fry the mince in batches until browned. Set aside.
  • In the same pot, add a bit more oil and fry the onion, garlic, carrots and celery until the onions are translucent.
  • Add the mince back to the pot and stir to combine everything.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, water, sugar and spices.
  • Cook for 25 minutes covered.
  • Add the vegetables (if using any) and allow to cook for another 15 minutes.
  • If the sauce seems slightly too thin to you, you could either just remove the lid and allow to bubble for a few minutes until it’s reduced, or you could mix 2tsp cornflour with some cold water and add that to the sauce.
Simply Delicious Recipe Ebook
Alida Ryder
Alida Ryder
Being a general food freak has proven to be quite helpful in this career I've found myself in. Author of two cookbooks, photographer, food stylist. Mom to twins. Ex make-up and hair artist obsessed with beautiful clothes and spaces. I love a good G&T and I've been known to spend too much money on shoes.
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  • Stef

    Can you freeze the dough if you do not want to use it all in one go?

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      I’m sure you could, although I think it would be better to actually make the Vetkoek and then freeze them. I don’t know if dough freezes so well.

  • Merle

    looks good but where is vetkoek recipe or am i stooopid!!!

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      Merle, I did mention in the post that I used http://www.cookbook.co.za ‘s recipe. If you browse through the post again you’ll see the link. :)

  • Lee

    I have frozen dough-it works like a charm!
    Just make sure you defrost it naturally

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      THanx for the tipe Lee! :)

  • Annie

    My boyfriend is South African but he is now living in the States. For his four year anniversary of living here I want to make him this because it is his favorite. But…what is Beef Mince (is it like our ground meat?) and how large is one tin of tomatos? Here they come in all sorts of sizes. Thanks for your help!

  • ChantelleM

    I have a question, can you have vetkoek and mince for breakfast or is it a lunch time meal. Pls help coz I’m having a heated debate with my father in law.

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Alida Ryder

      Chantelle, I don’t know if it’s officially a breakfast food but I know at the Pretoria Boeremark, they sell the most incredible Vetkoek & Mince and the market is only open from 6am-9am, and I always get one. So I have it for breakfast then. But in general I think it’s mostly served as a lunch/dinner food.

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